South Philly. Those words make one think Philly cheesesteaks, right? Or Italian food—pastas, red sauces, olive oils. Mangia!
No, wait. Not this time. I’ve been in many fantastic Italian restaurants in South Philadelphia. But this time I was traveling with Husb (not the biggest fan of red sauce) and we were meeting Miss C and her Vince for dinner. There’s no one better at finding a good restaurant than Miss C and so I gave her Husb’s parameters. She came up with Bistrot La Minette. Voilà!
Sixth Street just below South. Saturday evening. Of course the streets were full and parking was difficult. But I knew the struggle would be worth it. We arrived at the restaurant exactly on time. And hungry. I had perused the menu on-line a few days before and had only one thing on my mind: haricot verts. Some might say that “green beans” is not usually what people look forward to, but back when we had a garden Husb grew the best haricot verts I’ve ever eaten. Slender, dark green, tender, and full of flavor. I have no idea why anyone grows any other green bean.
So yes, I was getting the haricot verts. But first a drink, madame? Bien sure. I was surprised to see French 75s on the menu, something I haven’t had since Le Bistro (now Café 210) in college. Fun way to start a meal.
What to order for dinner? Miss C was decisive: Terrine de Foie Gras (“duck liver paté, arugula, cognac raisins, honey vejus vinaigrette, red wine reduction”) to start and Escargots à la Bourguignonne (“Burgundy snails, garlic herb butter, croutons”) for entrée. Needless to say, I did not ask to share hers. Vince chose the Lapin Rôti à la Moutarde (“mustard-braised rabbit, house-made taglietelle, rabbit jus”). Thinking of the duck we used to have at the Blue Moon in York (now the Blue Heron and soon to be reviewed!), as well as the trout amandine we once experienced at Maison Robert in Boston, Husb and I were of like minds. He ordered the Magret de Canard Vigneronne (“pan-seared duck breast, vigneronne sauce, grapes, raisins, sautéed cauliflower, pommes purées”) and I the Truite Meunier (“Miller-style trout, green beans, fingerling potatoes, lemon brown butter, almonds”). Yes, my meal came with haricot verts, but we still ordered a side to share.
Dinner met our expectations (which, honestly, were pretty high). We split a bottle of wine, enjoyed and shared our meals (except those pesky snails!), and just pretty much had a great time. Serving size was perfect—enough to enjoy but not enough to ruin opportunities for dessert. My Tarte Tatin (“upside down apple tart, caramel ice cream”) reminded me of the apple tart at the Blue Moon. Husb’s Pot de Crème au Chocolat (really, they shouldn’t call it chocolate pudding, that’s an injustice) was light and silky smooth.
The owner and executive chef at Bistrot La Minette is Peter Woolsey, with quite the Philadelphia fine dining record (remember Striped Bass?). Read the “About” on the website if you are hesitating at all. This is a wonderful place for French bistro food. I’m sure it’s where Husb will suggest we go in Philadelphia from now on.
Photos from the restaurant website.